Brave World is a work of genius. The brainchild of Anni and Maud Davey, whose careers have straddled cabaret, theatre, circus, and burlesque, this high-energy, madcap variety show is an intimate, political romp that is deeply feminist, but as joyous as anything you will see in a long time.
The show – in which the audience is seated in cabaret seating, with some ‘regular’ theatre seating in traverse – starts with Anni and Maude Davey rapping about the state of the world clad in gold bodysuits. It then makes way for an incredible cast – including a guest performer changing every week – who perform acts ranging from song to hoops to trapeze.
The performances from the all-female cast revel in and critique the politics around the female body. From a brilliant hoops routine during which the performer spouts a monologue about her body after having had a child, to a woman walking around clad in bricks that perfectly sums up the everyday painful weight of being female, Brave World is, indeed, brave and the show has clearly come from the hearts and minds of women at the peak of their craft.
Brave World engages in serious feminist and political debate around issues that are often incredibly fraught with negative emotion and negative history – the male colonization of the female body, sexuality, sexual assault, climate change – but they do it in a way that is filled with joy, pleasure, and cheekiness. In offering up their politics to the audience with a wink and a smile (and a vagina made up of audience members), they claim their space in the debate in a way that engages, enraptures and enlivens us rather than having us run scared.
Brave World is an effortlessly presented piece of theatre/cabaret/vaudeville, but at its heart is the culmination of two careers’ worth of experience in all of these fields. Maude and Anni Davey control their talents and bodies – and those of others – in strong, clever and emotional ways. There is earnestness when need be, but subversion when necessary to create a big-hearted show that is deeply personal, political and relevant, but also deeply accessible and filled with joy.